With Harbour Day now almost upon us, this coming Saturday, 3rd August, here is a round up of just a few of the many things to look out for.
The Barge Match
The history of Thames Barge matches (or races) goes back a long way. The original Thames barge race between Stanford-le-Hope in Essex and Gravesend in Kent was held in 1863, making it the world’s second oldest organised sailing race after the America’s Cup. It still takes place today, and is now one of a series of nine matches held throughout the Summer months. Whitstable’s own barge match takes place during Harbour Day every year.
The start of this year’s Whitstable match is scheduled for 12.45. A briefing will be given to all participants on the quayside at Whitstable Harbour beforehand. The course will start and finish off the harbour and be set around familiar navigation marks including the Pollard Spit, Columbine Spit and Whitstable Street Buoy.
Prize giving will take place at approx. 16.30 aboard the Greta in Whitstable Harbour basin, with prizes and refreshments provided by Whitstable Harbour. Prizes are awarded for the first barge, first gaffer, first smack/yawl and the Harbourmaster’s prize for the most notable performance.
Craft to look out for
Here’s a small taster of just four of the variety of craft to look out for in and around the harbour on Harbour Day.
The barge match, which takes place as part of Whitstable Harbour Day is joined this year (3rd August 2019) by Repertor, an historic, traditional Thames sailing barge
Repertor was built in 1924 by Horlocks of Mistley, on the River Stour in Essex. She worked in trade until the late 1960s, at first under sail alone, later with auxiliary engines. Carrying general cargo, typically grain, fertiliser, feeds and timber, she could load up to 140 tons, equivalent to 4 HGVs. She ended her trading days as a motor tanker, carrying acid for manufacture of plastics; nowadays she carries people instead.
Whitstable residents Sue and Richard Judge have recently acquired ex-RNLI lifeboat The Chieftain. Richard has a lifelong connection with Whitstable Harbour through being crew on the RNLI lifeboat for nearly 40 years.
The Chieftain is a 35 ½ foot, Liverpool class lifeboat built by Groves and Gutteridge in Cowes, Isle of Wight in 1948 for the RNLI. She is twin-engined and built of double diagonal mahogany planking on oak frames with a two ton iron keel and lead ballast to provide stability.
In many ways this class of boat was very similar to the earlier pulling and sailing boats in appearance with just the addition of a cuddy for the engines.